Lote Tuqiri is adamant he can still be a force as readies to debut for South Sydney 15 years after his NRL debut.
The 34-year-old dual international was one of the game’s most devastating runners in his early career with Brisbane but injuries have severely curtailed him since he returned to the NRL in 2010 after seven years in rugby union.
Only signed by Souths in late January after a short stint with English rugby union’s Leicester Tigers, Tuqiri is expected to play in Thursday’s showcase NRL season-opening match against premiers Sydney Roosters, due to a host of injuries in the Rabbitohs camp.
He managed just 25 game in his previous three seasons with Wests Tigers due mainly to complications with a broken arm.
But he says he is confident he can use his vast experience to be a factor once again.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could handle it and still mix it with the young guys coming through,” Tuqiri said on Monday.
“I’m blessed I have the chance to be part of this team.
“I’ve probably been in the wilderness injury-wise. But I’m back now and I’ve been injury-free since the end of last year so I’m happy to be here at a good club.
“I am here to bring experience, I talk a lot on the field and probably bring a calming energy as well.
“I’ve had to bring some other things to my arsenal to get (selected) in teams and to break down defences over the last few years because I’m not getting any younger.”
Tuqiri will come up against two of the game’s best young wingers in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Daniel Tupou on Thursday and is relishing the challenge.
“They had a great year last year, Tuivasa-Sheck in particular, his footwork is phenomenal,” Tuqiri said.
“Whether I come up against him or Tupou on the other side I will have my hands full.
” But I will get my game squared away first and then hopefully they can think about me as well.”